Scientific Discovery: A View from the Trenches

  • Catherine Blake
  • Meredith Rendall
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 4265)


One of the primary goals in discovery science is to understand the human scientific reasoning processes. Despite sporadic success of automated discovery systems, few studies have systematically explored the socio-technical environments in which a discovery tool will ultimately be embedded. Modeling day-to-day activities of experienced scientists as they develop and verify hypotheses provides both a glimpse into the human cognitive processes surrounding discovery and a deeper understanding of the characteristics that are required for a discovery system to be successful. In this paper, we describe a study of experienced faculty in chemistry and chemical engineering as they engage in what Kuhn would call “normal” science, focusing in particular on how these scientists characterize discovery, how they arrive at their research question, and the processes they use to transform an initial idea into a subsequent publication. We discuss gaps between current definitions used in discovery science, and examples of system design improvements that would better support the information environment and activities in normal science.


Socio-technical information behaviors knowledge discovery 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Catherine Blake
    • 1
  • Meredith Rendall
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Information and Library ScienceUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA

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